Legionella pneumophila, the agent of Legionnaires' disease, is an intracellular parasite of aquatic amoebae and human macrophages. A key factor for L. pneumophila in intracellular infection is its type II protein secretion system (Lsp). In order to more completely define Lsp output, we recently performed a proteomic analysis of culture supernatants. Based upon the predictions of that analysis, we found that L. pneumophila secretes two distinct aminopeptidase activities encoded by the genes lapA and lapB. Whereas lapA conferred activity against leucine, phenylalanine, and tyrosine aminopeptides, lapB was linked to the cleavage of lysine-and arginine-containing substrates. To assess the role of secreted aminopeptidases in intracellular infection, we examined the relative abilities of lapA and lapB mutants to infect human U937 cell macrophages as well as Hartmannella vermiformis and Acanthamoeba castellanii amoebae. Although these experiments identified a dispensable role for LapA and LapB, they uncovered a previously unrecognized role for the type II-dependent ProA (MspA) metalloprotease. Whereas proA mutants were not defective for macrophage or A. castellanii infection, they (but not their complemented derivatives) were impaired for growth upon coculture with H. vermiformis. Thus, ProA represents the first type II effector implicated in an intracellular infection event. Furthermore, proA represents an L. pneumophila gene that shows differential importance among protozoan infection models, suggesting that the legionellae might have evolved some of its factors to especially target certain of their protozoan hosts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology